I’m going to put this out there: I don’t think Jennifer Miller or Jason Feifer have ever read a romance novel. I didn’t hate this book, it’s a slightly satiric, social commentary on dating and sex in New York City. It’s general fiction. Which is fine. Just please don’t label it a romance novel. I see why romance readers are having a hard time with this book. Romance is primarily written by women, and for women, not that there aren’t male romance writers, there are, but the vast majority of the authors and readers are women. Mr. Nice Guy felt like it was very much written from the male gaze. You will enjoy this novel much more if you shift your focus away from the romance aspect of this novel.
The first problem in this book is that 80% of it is spent in a 24-year-old man’s head. Listen, I get it. I was 24 not too long ago, I have a 24-year-old brother. It was an entertaining glimpse into the insecurities lots of young men face. Sexual inadequacies, whether their head is too small for their body, how to get ahead in business, all of these things are realistic; but not at all what I want in a romance novel hero. I don’t think the point of Lucas’ character was to be likable (which is good because he wasn’t) but I really wanted someone to root for, and I usually prefer that be the main character. As it was, Lucas had very immature characterizations of the people in his life, especially the women, a skewed idea of what a “nice guy” is, and a massive victim complex.
I appreciated Carmen’s character much more. She was a confident and successful 31-year-old sex columnist looking to start the next phase in her life. I have no idea how she accepted so much criticism, but I aspire to have the confidence she does. Carmen had an extremely adversarial relationship with Lucas at the beginning of the book, and while she is portrayed as the “mean” one, I would argue that Lucas had the harder blows in their back and forth columns. She talked about technique and confidence, things that can be changed, whereas he attacked her character and attitude.
The second problem for me was the lack of emotion in 95% of the sexual acts in this book. There is no exclusivity (the hero is having regular sex with two women at one point), because of the column, both Carmen and Lucas look at sex with this sad and jaded eye that made me feel just a little bit worse about the world. Not exactly what I am looking for in a romantic comedy. Worst of all, this smacked of prostitution. Please have sex with this guy, tell the world, or else you might be fired. The whole thing could have been cute but the way it was handled made me feel a bit skeevy.
The climax of this book made me feel physically ill. I wanted to punch Lucas in the face and Jays was evil incarnate. Again, this is what we’re supposed to think as a reader, but it was tough to stomach. Lucas attempted to become a hero at the end; however, I wasn’t convinced. Tyler was the only character I really connected with. He was way too good for this book. #TeamTyler he should have a real romance novel with Alexis where they meet at Noser.
Overall, the book is an intriguing look into the world of journalism and imperfect, ambitious people. As I mentioned before, it is NOT a romance novel. I don’t regret finishing the book, and I hope other readers connect with Lucas and Carmen more than I did.
**I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**
Mr. Nice Guy releases October 16